FAQs about Posting Maryland Bail Bonds

The following is provided for information purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice for any particular case or situation.  If you have questions about posting a bond, contact an attorney and/or a commissioner's office in the relevant county.


How does a bail/bond get set in a Maryland state criminal case?

After a person is arrested and processed (which can take several hours), he or she appears before a judicial commissioner.   A commissioner is not a judge and does not need to be a lawyer.   After considering some basic information about the defendant’s criminal history, ties to the community, employment, family situation, and other information, the commissioner will set a bond or bail amount that has to be paid before the defendant can released from jail.  The commissioner does not have to set a bond amount in all cases and can direct that the defendant may be released without paying any money.   It is difficult to predict what the bond amount will be in any particular case.    The more serious the case, the more the bond will be.

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Once the bail amount is set, who can post it?

The defendant can post the bond or have someone who is at least 18 years old post the bond.  It is usually done at the commissioner’s office.   If the defendant does not appear in court, a judge will have the authority to forfeit the bond – meaning that the person who posted the money will not get it back.  If a bond is forfeited, there is a procedure for asking the court to vacate the forfeiture.

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How can I post the bail amount?

The defendant or someone over the age of 18 may post the bail by paying the bail amount directly with the commissioner/court.  If the defendant appears for all the court proceedings, the person who posted the bail money will get it back, usually by a check issued about two to six weeks after the case has concluded.     If the bail amount is $2,500 or less, you may be able to post 10% of the bail amount.  If the defendant fails to appear, the 10% may be forfeited and the person who posted the 10% may be responsible for paying the full bond amount (the other 90%).    Maryland Rule 4-217(e) allows someone to post “intangible property” in lieu of cash if “approved by the Court.”  Contact the commissioner’s office to find out what “intangible property” has been approved and will be accepted. 

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Credit and Debit Cards

Commissioner offices may accept payment of the bond by credit card or debit card.   You should expect that there will be a hefty service fee for using a debit or credit card.  (Probably because the credit card processing companies take a percentage of the amount paid as their fee, which would otherwise leave less than the full bond amount being paid)  Contact the commissioner’s office to find out what the fee would be for the bond amount you may have to pay. 

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Can I post my land or home in lieu of money for the bail?

Land or a home may be used to post the bail amount.   To do this, the equity of the house must be equal to or greater than the amount of the bail.    The equity of a home is likely to be calculated by taking the assessed value of the property and deducting any mortgages, liens, deeds of trust, and other encumbrances.   The commissioner’s office typically will require the person posting the property to provide a copy of the deed, tax bills, and assessment notices.  The Commissioners office may require that all persons whose names appear on the deed and/or tax bill sign the bond. 

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Can I use a bondsman?

If a person cannot pay the set bond, he or she may be able to hire a bail bondsman to post the full amount.  This usually requires the person who wants to post the bond, to pay the bondsman a fee (usually 5% to 10%) of the bond amount.   This fee is not refunded when the case is over – unlike payments made to the court.    The bondsman can require additional conditions for posting the bond.    There might also be onerous obligations that are triggered if the defendant fails to appear for a court date.    It is also important to consider whether the defendant might be charged with additional offenses (including violations of probation) in the next few days or weeks.   If you pay a bondsman to get someone out of jail, and the defendant is arrested a few days later on new charges or a VOP warrant, you will likely not receive any refund of the fees paid to hire a bondsman for the first case.

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What if I don’t post the bail with the commissioner right away?

With regard to charges filed in Maryland state court, a defendant who does not post the bail bond with the commissioner will likely receive a bond review hearing on the next day the court is open for business.   At that bond review hearing, the defendant and his/her attorney can make arguments to the judge regarding why the bond should be reduced.   The attorney can also suggest conditions of the bond (no contact orders; bond co-signers; home electronic monitoring; pre-trial supervision) that may make a judge more comfortable reducing the amount of the bond.   An attorney can also suggest alternatives to paying the full bond amount.

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What is a District Court Appeal bond?

If a defendant is convicted and sentenced in the District Court, the judge may set an appeal bond that can be paid so the service of the sentence can be suspended pending the outcome of an appeal to the Circuit Court.   It is possible that the appeal bond will not be accepted after hours by the commissioners office, and can only be paid at the clerks office of the District Court.   This could be a problem if the trial concluded after 4:30 when most clerks offices close.  It is a bigger problem if the trial concluded after 4:30 on a Friday, or before a holiday.   If the bond cannot get paid, the defendant may have to start serving his or her sentence.    Check the available procedures in your relevant county.

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